Redefining Traditional is a global initiative to make higher education more family-friendly.
Student parents, or students who also have family responsibilities, make up about 15% of post-secondary enrolments 1. Despite this prevalence, few institutional policies, spaces, and programs account for their needs. To address this gap, we aim to equip student parents with the tools needed to successfully navigate their multifarious roles, engage them to join a cross-institutional community of belonging, and support them by facilitating productive dialogue among advocates and change-makers. In doing so, we hope to improve the access, visibility, and experience of these students, allowing them to flourish in all areas of their lives.
In the fall of 2018 at the University of Toronto, students from the Innovation Hub approached the Family Care Office to suggest a design thinking project to use empathy-based research to better understand the experiences of student parents. The results of this project were shared within the community and led to the involvement of the libraries, the School of Graduate Studies, Student Family Housing and the Faculty of KPE Sport & Rec in discussing an important question: how might the university community better support student parents? In 2020, these partners came together to envision an event that would bring together the higher education community: student parents, researchers, staff supporters, faculty and policymakers to explore these questions in a day-long event. Our group was fortunate enough to connect with Tricia van Rhijn who agreed to keynote the event and has become an integral member of our community. Unfortunately, the global pandemic pre-empted the conference, and the team has changed directions to imagine an online community in support of student parents.
Overview of Our Community
Our website offers a plethora of resources for student parents and their supporters to navigate the challenges of balancing parenting, academics, and self-care in a COVID-19 context. Here, student parents can find resources for academic success, childcare, finances, health, homeschooling, and recreation. There is also a list of live events for children and their families, as well as a section with multidisciplinary research on the student parent population.
Have an idea you would like to share with our community? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This community has been imagined by partners at the University of Toronto:
1 van Rhijn, T., Smit Quosai, T., & Lero, D. S. (2011). A profile of undergraduate student parents in Canada.